Deep Freeze: How to Keep Pipes Flowing

Deep Freeze: How to Keep Pipes Flowing
  • Opening Intro -

    The coldest temperatures we've seen for this century have spread across much of the US, pushing deep into the south and dumping snow even in Pensacola, Florida.

    Spring can't come soon enough for most of us, but winter isn't about ready to relinquish its icy grip for many more weeks.


One of the scourges of the season are frozen pipes, a problem that can be avoided with careful planning. Even so, if your pipes do freeze you can thaw them before damage occurs. Here’s what you need to do when the pipes have frozen over.


You only need to thaw your pipes if you didn’t prevent them from freezing in the first place. This means inspecting the insulation around the pipes that are exposed to the elements including under the house and in the crawl space, garage, attic and other areas.

A quick fix here is to install a pipe sleeve to protect your pipes or with heat tape or a heat cable. Newspaper can also provide insulation, but should be considered only a temporary remedy until a more comprehensive fix is undertaken.


Just before the next really cold snap hits, you can take preventative action to keep your pipes from freezing, then bursting. Garage doors should be shut tight. Kitchen cabinets can be left open to allow heat to circulate especially if there are pipes behind the cabinets.

Allow the cold water in your faucets to drip slightly before you head to bed. This includes the kitchen faucet as well as bathroom faucets. Keep the thermostat at the daytime temperature, what can also prevent pipes from freezing. When the deep freeze is over, you can return the thermostat to its lower nighttime setting.


You’ve taken the required precautions and your pipes froze. Or you neglected to prepare and you have the same result. Now what should you do?

Assume that the pipes are frozen wherever water does not drip out. Keep these faucets open to allow water to flow out as soon as it melts. Water needs a place to run otherwise it will expand and burst your pipes.

You can apply heat to the section of the pipe you determined is frozen. A portable space heater can warm the affected area. A hair dryer or a heating pad wrapped to the affected section can thaw out the pipe too. Once the water pressure has been restored you can remove the heating sources and verify that the trapped ice is no longer present.


Long term, you may have to look at more comprehensive solutions especially if frozen pipes are a frequent occurrence. Exposed pipes may need to be relocated, an expense that may be best tied in with a home renovation project. You’ll also need to add more insulation, with perhaps a professional checking the exposed areas and making recommendations on what solutions would work best.

See AlsoWhat You Need to Know About Snow on Your Roof



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Categories: Home Structure

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".